WHO chief says climate crisis, pollution escalate disease burden-Xinhua

WHO chief says climate crisis, pollution escalate disease burden

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-03-01 00:43:30

NAIROBI, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- The unfolding climate emergencies combined with pollution and habitat loss have worsened the disease burden, especially in the Global South, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, Thursday.

Speaking at the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) underway in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, Tedros regretted that health outcomes among communities have declined in the face of a growing ecological crisis.

While acknowledging that the health of humans, animals and the environment are interwoven, Tedros said the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution threatens gains achieved in containing killer ailments.

"Human health is suffering when the health of the planet on which we depend is in peril. More frequent and severe weather events cause deaths and injuries, and damage to health facilities and other essential infrastructure," Tedros said. He noted that humanity is paying a heavy price from contaminated air, and water sources as evidenced by a surge in fatal ailments like lung cancer, asthma, kidney stones and cardiovascular diseases.

According to Tedros, climate change is behind shifts in behavior, distribution, and movement of mosquitoes, birds and other pathogen-carrying species, intensifying the spread of infectious diseases like malaria and dengue fever to new regions.

He observed that illegal wildlife trade if allowed to thrive unabated could intensify the risk of zoonotic diseases that have emerged as leading public health security risks.

The nexus between climate change and health took center stage during the 28th UN climate talks held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, in November and December 2023.

Tedros said that last year's global climate talks reaffirmed the urgency to reenergize climate action through mitigation and adaptation to secure a healthier and more resilient future for humanity.

The WHO has so far partnered with member states to speed up the implementation of guidelines focusing on the environmental dimension of health including air quality, clean water and proper nutrition, Tedros said. He stressed that multilateral action is urgent to end plastic pollution, transform food systems and avert the movement of hazardous waste to boost human health.

In addition, Tedros said that transforming transport systems and ensuring they attain zero-emission targets will be key to taming the growing burden of non-communicable diseases.